10 Steps to a More Cooperative, Less Stressful Relationship with Your Puppy

I read a lot of posts on social media from puppy owners distraught because their puppy barks at strangers, chewed on their couch, eliminated in their crate (“I was only gone 4 hours!”), or they whine when left in their crate or pen (“I bought so many toys! What’s wrong with her?”). In most cases they’ve already attended a group puppy class and are unhappy that didn’t solve every problem.

I have news for all puppy owners: Puppies need your time and attention, and they desperately wish humans would notice when they’re telling us they’re afraid or uncomfortable.

Dog training cannot replace the importance of your relationship with your puppy. The bond between you and the ways you choose to interact with your puppy do that.

You’re building a relationship with your puppy every time you interact with them. We either build trust with our actions or we teach our puppy to not trust us.

71773241790 BD6965A2 D05F 47AF B370 C1C0DB9A8E1E

Ways you can fulfill your puppy’s needs on a deeper level than “training” will ever achieve:

*Provide daily enrichment, whole foods, high-value rewards (single ingredient, freeze-dried animal proteins) and age-appropriate chews.

IMG 8286
Toppl, enrichment, food puzzle

*Provide appropriately-sized nest beds in every room your puppy spends time in so they have the deepest, most restful sleep. Hint: Bigger is the opposite of better, when it comes to nest beds.

IMG 2840

How to be trustworthy, from your puppy’s perspective:

*Learn to read your puppy’s body language and respond appropriately to their communication. Feeling truly “heard” is one of the most self-affirming experiences for any sentient being.

*Don’t use “corrections” (including “no!”) as a substitute for teaching your puppy. Invest the time needed to show them what you want and reward generously, when behavior your want to repeat happens.

*Don’t pick your puppy up without them being aware it’s happening. Better yet, consistently give them a cue before reaching for them.

*Teach your puppy to walk into their pen or crate on their own steam, so you don’t have to put them in there. Forced entries create resistance.

IMG 9360

*Never ignore nor minimize your puppy’s fear.

*Never leave your puppy to “cry it out.”

*Avoid taking things from your puppy’s mouth. Trade for everything. 

*Never trick your puppy. Faking a ball throw or sneaking out of the house might seem funny or convenient for you. Both can obliterate trust between you and your puppy

Dee Green has been a professional dog trainer and canine behavior consultant for more than 20 years. She specializes in puppies up to 18 months, and fearful, anxious and reactive dogs of all ages

Accessibility Tools